When Allegra Huston was four years old, her mother was killed in a car crash. Soon afterward, she was introduced to an intimidating man wreathed in cigar smoke - the legendary film director John Huston - with the words, “This is your father”.
At the heart of Love Child is Allegra’s search for the widely adored mother she never knew - and also a search for where she herself belongs. Allegra grew up in a fragmented, contradictory family: an only child with many siblings; not unwanted, but a perennial problem to be solved. As the daughter of a charismatic man, the much younger sister of the model and actress Anjelica Huston, and the bookish one in a family of artists, she felt like an outer planet, orbiting their much brighter lights. The discovery of her “real” father when she was 12 - the British aristocrat and historian John Julius Norwich - raised more questions than it answered.
Allegra brings us into the mind of a child tossed on the tempests of other people’s priorities - constantly assessing the unspoken currents of intention and the stability of each temporary home, always on the lookout for the next upheaval. With the forensic gaze of an outsider, she takes us from a mansion in Ireland, to the hilltop retreats of Jack Nicholson and Ryan O’Neal, to the remote Mexican beach where John Huston ended his days. With clear-eyed tenderness, Allegra tells how she reconciled the clash of loyalties, negotiated the web of secrets and awkward truths, and eventually, with the birth of her son, found her place at the center of her own life. At his christening, she forged her two families together into one and transformed her mother’s difficult legacy into a hard-won blessing.
For Allegra, having lived this story, family is defined not by the strands of DNA but simply by love and the willingness to love. She discovers in the cruel accident that ripped her mother from her an unexpected luck: a richness of family that, had her mother lived, she might never have known.